Digital Harbor Foundation Announces Multi-Year Commitment by The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation

Grant to support maker and computer science education opportunities for Baltimore youth in the out-of-school time and educator professional development.

BALTIMORE (January 17, 2019) On the 6th Anniversary of opening the Digital Harbor Foundation (DHF) Tech Center in the former South Baltimore Rec Center, the Digital Harbor Foundation announced a multi-year commitment of $450,000.00 to support DHF’s ongoing initiatives and aid in efforts to expand its reach.

“The Weinberg Foundation has been a key partner from the very beginning of our work,” said Andrew Coy, Executive Director of the Digital Harbor Foundation. “This multi-year commitment allows us to act immediately on the core threads outlined in our new strategic plan which are focused on extending opportunities to even more Baltimore youth. Specifically, it will allow us to grow our team, make structural updates to several of our programs, and create new ways for youth to participate in our programs.”

As highlighted in the 2018 Annual Report, DHF’s impact has grown from a single afterschool program to now serving 1,250 youth from 37 Baltimore-area zip codes in a variety of out-of-school-time programs and special events with another 2,678 community members attending our special events. Additionally, DHF’s Center of Excellence for Innovation in Technology Education supports educators from around the country as they incorporate technology education in their learning environments through in-person workshops, online professional development, and individualized consulting. In 2018, 241 educators attended DHF’s in-person workshops (having an indirect impact on 38,505 youth from around the country) with 1,339 educators using Blueprint, DHF’s online educator resources which includes getting started guides, project ideas, online courses, and digital guides.

The announcement was made alongside a number of other public releases including the launch of free field-trip opportunities for Baltimore City Public Schools, shift in summer programs to full-day camps, new educator professional development opportunities, and naming of Darius McCoy to the role of Tech Center Director at Digital Harbor Foundation’s flagship location.

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About the Digital Harbor Foundation
The Digital Harbor Foundation (DHF), a non-profit organization located in Baltimore City, is dedicated to fostering innovation, tech advancement, and entrepreneurship by helping youth develop digital age skills through maker and computer science education. In 2013, DHF reopened the closed South Baltimore Rec Centers as the Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center, a youth-centric makerspace and in 2016 launched the Center of Excellence for Innovation in Technology Education. Learn more at digitalharbor.org

About The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, one of the largest private charitable foundations in the United States, is dedicated to meeting the basic needs of vulnerable people and families experiencing poverty. In 2019, the Foundation will provide approximately $125 million in grants to nonprofits that provide direct services in the areas of Housing, Health, Jobs, Education, and Community Services. The Foundation’s priority communities include Baltimore, Chicago, Hawaii, Israel, New York City, Northeastern Pennsylvania, San Francisco, and Rural Communities (primarily surrounding other priority communities). The Foundation’s trustees include Robert T. Kelly, Jr., Board Chair; Ambassador Fay Hartog-Levin (Ret.); Paula B. Pretlow; and Gordon Berlin. Rachel Garbow Monroe continues to serve as President and CEO. For more information, please visit www.hjweinbergfoundation.org.

6th Anniversary Showcase

Six years ago we held the Grand Opening for the launch of the Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center. Forbes published “Commandeering The Decks: Baltimore’s Digital Harbor Tech Center” wrote at the time:

“Beginning next week, the Digital Harbor Tech Center will offer Baltimore City Public School students what they need to innovate. This will happen through after school digital literacy programs, classes, and clubs where kids can hone their mobile app development, web design, and digital media production skills… The center’s grand opening was a packed house, where excited participants got to show equally excited visitors the fruits of some their early work, providing a taste of what’s to come from the space.”

To celebrate our past year of work and marking the 6th Anniversary milestone, and in addition to our youth showed off their most recent creations, we were excited to

  • announce a major grant from the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation,
  • release both our 2018 Annual Report and our 2019-2021 Strategic Plan,
  • introduce Darius McCoy as the newly named Tech Center Director,
  • announce the launch of new Tech Center Field Trips opportunities,
  • announce the opportunity for Pop-Up Programs at off-site locations, and
  • announced changes to our summer Maker Camp program.

Special thanks to all of the individuals, companies, organizations and foundations that make our work possible! We wouldn’t be here without your support — you are making a TRANSFORMATIONAL impact on the trajectory of thousands of Baltimore youth!

Major Grant from The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation

To support the work of the Digital Harbor Foundation, the Weinberg Foundation has made a $450,000.00 commitment over two years. You can read a full press release about this major grant here: https://www.digitalharbor.org/2019/01/digital-harbor-foundation-announces-multi-year-commitment-harry-jeanette-weinberg-foundation/

Digital Harbor Foundation’s 2018 Annual Report

We are pleased to present the Digital Harbor Foundation’s 2018 Annual Report and to reflect on the progress our youth and staff have made during the 2018 calendar year. Some of this progress is easy to see, such as the number of youth who participated in our courses or the launch of DHF’s National Rec-to-Tech Design Challenge. However, just as important are the hundreds of small and individual victories our youth have achieved over the past year. Read the whole report here.

Digital Harbor Foundation Strategic Plan (2019-2021)

Through the support and expertise of An-Me Chung, and with input from hundreds of stakeholders and community members, Digital Harbor Foundation has developed a strategic plan to help guide its work over the course of the next three years. The report outlines our organizational Theory of Change as well as Strategic Priority Actions designed to guide our efforts to continue delivering high-quality programs to even more youth in Baltimore and educators nationally. Read the full plan here.

Darius McCoy, Tech Center Director

As Digital Harbor Foundation has grown, the need for a single Director for all of our youth-serving programs at the Tech Center has become apparent. As we went through the interview process for the position, we realized that the best person to lead that work was one of our very own former youth, Darius McCoy. We could not be more pleased to introduce him to the broader community as the Tech Center Director. Seeing him step into this role is a manifestation of the transformational potential for youth in our programs to directly lead this work.

Field Trips

We are excited to announce new opportunities for 3D Printing Field Trip (FREE for Baltimore City Public Schools). During this high quality, hands-on field trip experience, youth learn how to use 3D design software to design and 3D print a personalized object. Additionally, an interactive presentation is delivered that covers the uses of 3D printers in a variety of industries, how they work, and the design-to-print workflow.

Schools can sign up directly at https://www.digitalharbor.org/whatwedo/youth/field-trips/

Pop-Up Programs

In addition to field trip opportunities to the Tech Center, DHF is excited to announce the launch of Pop-Up Programs where DHF collaborates with organizations and schools to bring hands-on tech experiences to youth in those spaces. To learn more and get invovled, email popup@digitalharbor.org!

All-Day Summer Camp

Based on feedback and requests from families, we are excited to announce changes to our summer Maker Camp schedule that will make our previously two-week half-day camps to now run all day for one week. Sign up for our newsletter to receive the announcement when registration opens: https://eepurl.com/I8aJX

Digital Harbor Foundation’s 5th Anniversary Showcase

More than 200 youth, parents, and community members attended Digital Harbor Foundation’s 5th Anniversary Showcase, one of our highest attended showcases to date. Youth presented projects such as a flashlight made out of recycled materials, an Arduino programmed lamp, and an Arduino-powered cardboard gauntlet. Sam Mitchell, Sorensen Wynn, and Eli Edmondson used Python programming to create a multiplayer game in Minecraft. The object of the game is to destroy bricks under another player in order to increase your own score.

“I walked away for a couple minutes and when I came back, everyone was playing it!” said Sam.

showcase room

Jordan Bocklage programmed a headband with wipers for her glasses, a project she had been wanting to make for the past two years since she took the Maker Foundations course. Right before the showcase, she couldn’t find the code to make the wipers move in unison and had to problem solve an alternative way to achieve her desired effect. After she showcased her work, Jordan told her parents and staff that this was only one version of her final work and that more prototypes were to come.

Mayen Nelson used his knowledge of circuitry and digital fabrication he learned in Maker Foundations to create a working laptop using a Raspberry Pi. Mayen worked down to the wire perfecting measurements for his laptop’s frame and finding a screen that worked the way he intended.

rpi laptop

In addition to being a showcase of our youth’s hard work, this showcase was also an opportunity to reflect on the past five years since DHF had the opportunity to reopen an unused recreation center.

“We came to work every day to a mostly empty space,” said Director of Programs, Steph Grimes.

Since then, DHF has expanded to offer courses in digital fabrication and programming to youth from 90 schools in and around Baltimore as well job opportunities and college credit. Several youth have presented projects at the White House and, last year, a DHF project inspired Adam Savage’s SXSL installation. Youth have also championed initiative such as Makerettes, the 3D Print Shop, and Harbor Hacks, the first Baltimore hackathon created by youth for youth.

scratch game

scratch game

Andrew Coy, DHF’s Executive Director, unveiled the new Expanding Tech Education Initiative, a plan to explore expanding informal tech education for underrepresented communities using makerspaces. The initiative will be funded by a research grant from the National Science Foundation EAGER program. Three sites will be selected to participate in the 18-month pilot program. Each site will receive $25K in new equipment and consumable material for curriculum implementation. The intention of this research is to find ways to create sustainable and diverse makerspaces in communities that could benefit from them.

On Thursday, February 1st at 4pm, DHF will host a conference call that will go through the details of the program and the selection process. If you’re interested in learning more information about DHF’s plans and process for the initiative, RSVP for the informational call!